Summary: So, if God is so good and so strong, why does He allow suffering? A look at answers for the Balconeers (those approaching it intellectually - "why?") and the Travellers (those in the midst of it asking "what now?")

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Traveler or Balconeer?

• Why evil and suffering?

o No surprise that many of you wrote asking about this

o #1 in poll asking “If there was one question you could ask God…?” – 17%

o “If God is loving and if He is all-powerful and if He is good, then surely all of this suffering should not exist. And yet it does!”

o “The problem of pain is the question mark turned like a fishhook in the human heart.”

• Dilemma is – how to answer?

o Not just because I only have one sermon

o Not just because so deep and intricate

 Millions upon millions of pages written and words spoken on this topic

 Every religion struggles with it

 Oldest written book in Bible – Job – 4,000 year ago – about this agonizing theme

o It’s difficult because not just an intellectual issue – it’s a deeply personal one as well

• J.I. Packer in “Knowing God”

o 2 kinds of interest in all questions of faith, especially when it comes to God and suffering and evil

 “Balconeers” and “Travelers”

o Balconeers love to sit above it all and take it all in.

 They ask a lot of why questions

 They watch the poor souls struggling down the road of life and ponder the why questions

• “Where is God? Why doesn’t He stop the pain and suffering? Why doesn’t God care? Why doesn’t He help?”

 But they are onlookers, and their problems are theoretical only.

o Travelers face problems which, though they have their theoretical angle, are essentially practical

 “How do I make it through today?

 “Where do I get the strength to survive?”

 Problems of the “which-way-to-go” and “how-to-make-it” type

 Problems which call not only for understanding, but for decision and action, too.

o The balconeer’s quest is to find an intellectual explanation of how evil and suffering can coexist with God’s power and goodness

 But the traveler’s problem is how to make it through today and tomorrow.

• We’ll be looking at both today

• Not answer everything in 45 minutes – obviously

• Prayer is that you will take home something to hang onto; that God will touch your mind and heart in a deep way; that you will experience the God who knows your questions and pain and will meet you wherever you are at.


1/ For the Balconeer – the “Why” Questions

1. Is the evidence of suffering against God?

o Certainly, there is evidence in our world and experience against God – but it isn’t necessarily certain or conclusive

o There is evidence for and against God

“If there is no God, why is there so much good? If there is a God, why is there so much evil?” Augustine

o Evil’s presence can work as evidence for the existence of God

 If no God, why not more evil

 Where does our objective standard of good come from?

2. Is suffering the result of sin?

o Some, but not all

John 9:1-3

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” (Msg)

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David Harris

commented on Apr 14, 2013

This is a great message on the problem of pain and suffering and a good God. Well thought out. It was a great resource.

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